EFF to tackle Nkandla, NPA in Zuma question session

2015-02-28 09:41

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The Economic Freedom Fighters will ask President Jacob Zuma about the impact of his own legal woes on the criminal justice system when he appears in the National Assembly next month, according to an order paper released yesterday.

It will return to the Nkandla controversy, but in a question to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In a two-part question scheduled for March 11, EFF leader Julius Malema will ask Zuma to respond to perceptions that institutions are being destabilised to shield him from prosecution for corruption.

“In light of the challenges experienced by the criminal justice institutions under his leadership, the uncertainty surrounding the future of the head of the National Prosecuting Authority, the fact that the Special Investigating Unit is without a head, and the future of the Hawks’ leader which is now under threat, what is he doing to ensure that there is stability in these units?” reads the question, according to the order paper.

Malema continues: “What is his position regarding the perception that at the centre of all the problems experienced by the criminal justice institutions is the desire to protect him from accounting for the charges that were controversially dropped by the NPA?”

The corruption charges were dropped in early 2009, on the basis that there may have been political meddling.

The EFF posed a question on Nkandla, the subject on which the party famously heckled Zuma on August 21, to Ramaphosa.

“What are the reasons for him not encouraging President Jacob Zuma to respond promptly to questions with regard to Nkandla?” EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu asks of Ramaphosa in the question tabled yesterday.

The Democratic Alliance, in its question for oral reply, asked Zuma on which dates this year he would appear before the National Assembly to respond to questions in terms of parliamentary rule 111(1)(A).

This rule obliges the president to do so four times a year. The opposition accuses Zuma of breaking it last year.

DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said he focused on this issue because oral questions – and in particular the four follow-up questions allowed – were the only time when the president responded off the cuff to MPs.

“The tough bit and the essence of the whole issue is that what he must do is enter into a dialogue, that is the essence of accountability.”

He said he would approve of the EFF again asking about Nkandla, as it did in August when the militant party’s MPs shouted “pay back the money” at Zuma.

“The EFF are free to ask the Nkandla question till they are blue in the face and they should.”

The EFF and the DA both rejected Zuma’s contention that he had responded to questions on Nkandla in full by the time Speaker Baleka Mbete adjourned the August 21 sitting.

“We reject that, it is a total cop-out. He did not answer.”

DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said of a statement by the presidency on Thursday, that Zuma had supplied those answers he did not complete, because of the disruption, in writing later.

Zuma argues he responded to the EFF’s demand to know when he will heed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s directive to pay for a portion of the R246 million upgrade to his private home, verbally before the sitting was adjourned.

Steenhuisen expressed dismay that Mbete had not obtained a commitment from Zuma to add additional time to his March 11 question session to respond to remaining issues from August.

“Our original proposal was that the president be given an hour on March 11, before he answers the new set of questions, to return to those to which he did not respond.

“She said it did not find favour with the president.”

Steenhuisen said Mbete should not accept this as a presidential prerogative.

“When the original fracas arose in August she made a commitment to find time for the president to return to answer questions and we are going to hold her to it.”

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